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Isobel Blackthorn’s “The Cabin Sessions” Dissapoints: Modernity Means More Magic (Review)

Set at an open mic one stormy Christmas Eve, The Cabin Sessions is a story of menace and dark secrets. While 12 regulars play their sets and the night rolls on, Adam Banks is anxious for his own safety. Back at home in her brother’s house, Eva Stone reveals the horrible truths about the town and her own family…

Isobel Blackthorn’s new novel (released by Fear Front Publishing as a debut) carries a remarkable weight in its long-winded narrative. The Cabin Sessions is a twisted, dark horror novel with unorthodox characterization and lengthy, semi-verbose descriptions. The main problem with The Cabin Sessions lies in its forced tone and hyperbolic exaggeration. I can appreciate the fluidity of Blackthorn’s prose, but one tends to lose interest if an entire novel is built on oh-woe-soul language.

For example: “On Christmas Eve, the scaremongering had been worse than ever, as the prospect of a storm of hitherto unknown intensity moiled over the plains to the south and to the west. While not yet eight o’clock, the sun had long since fallen behind the mountains, leaving Burton in shadow to be darkened further by the cloud that amassed beyond the peak.”

The above extract can be condensed into more functional language. Even the word “hitherto”, although powerful, makes the reading process laborious and antiquated. And it’s bothersome, because I know this novel has the potential to reach great heights. Blackthorn is an excellent writer. I adore her style and motif. She is talented – there’s no denying it.

Unfortunately, The Cabin Sessions wasn’t renovated with modernity in mind. It’s akin to wall-to-wall carpeting in the hallways of a Shirley Jackson novel. Despite the novel’s major errors, I do appreciate the inclusion of an LGBQT character. It lends credence to the storyline and the narrative arc.  

The Cabin Sessions could become a polarizing force to be reckoned with. But until then, I have no choice but to criticise The Cabin Sessions for its onerous obesity.

Don’t discredit Isobel Blackthorn though. I have great respect for her courageous writing style. I implore you to read The Cabin Sessions and make up your own mind about the novel.


Reviewed by Renier Palland

About Renier Palland (27 Articles)
Renier started his writing career as a film critic in the early 2000’s. A few years later, he was employed as a Senior Entertainment Writer at one of the biggest entertainment websites on the planet. He worked alongside celebrities, Hollywood agents and entertainment bigwigs for more than seven years. He received an international publishing deal in 2017. His debut splatterpunk trilogy, War Game, is slated for a 200 000-print USA and European release in March of 2018. The official launch will be held at Barnes & Noble in New York City.

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